Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the FBI on its investigations related to the suspected Chechen-origin Boston bombers, even as he praised Russia for its co-operation in the probe into the attacks.
"I think that all our law enforcement officials performed in an exemplary fashion after the bombing had taken place. We should be very proud of their work, as obviously we're proud of the people of Boston, all the first responders and the medical personnel that helped save lives," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference.
19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the lone-surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings which claimed three lives and wounded over 250, has been charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. The FBI has named his elder brother Tamerlan, 29, as the main suspect. He died in a police shoot out soon after the blasts.
"What we also know is that the Russian intelligence services had alerted US intelligence about the older brother as well as the mother, indicating that they might be sympathizers to extremists. The FBI investigated that older brother," Obama said.
"It's not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother; they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity," he said, when asked about allegations of FBI lapses with regard to Boston bombers.
"The question then is, was there something that happened that triggered radicalisation, an actual decision by the brother to engage in the attacks...and are there additional things that could have been done in that interim that might have prevented it?" Obama said.
Obama, who has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, twice after Boston bombings, said that the Russians have been very cooperative with the US since the terrorist attack. "You know, obviously, old habits die hard. There are still suspicions sometimes between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years, back to the Cold War. But they're continually improving," he said.
Obama said his Russian counterpart is committed to working him to make sure that there is full cooperation among intelligence agencies not only on this investigation, but also on counter-terrorism issues generally.